Bushfires along Australia’s east coast have so far scorched 2.5 million acres and claimed the lives of over 350 koalas.
There is no end in sight as 55 fires continue to spread through New South Wales. The drought conditions are only fueling the fires, while firefighters and rescue teams are working day and night to put them out. One of the fires is destroying a large koala habitat in Port Macquarie area.
While organizations and volunteer groups are attempting to rescue and care for as many koalas as possible, there are still many in need of help.
Toni Doherty is being called a hero for her amazing rescue of a badly burned male koala. She spotted the koala crossing the road near Long Flat in New South Wales and immediately pulled over to help. The disoriented koala returned to flames and was burned even more as he headed for a tree. Toni followed him and then removed the shirt from her back to wrap around his scorched body.
“He just went straight into the flames, and I just jumped out of the car and went straight to him,” Toni told 9News.
She quickly ran from the flames and set the injured koala on the ground to offer him some water. She offered him some water to drink and then poured the rest over his badly burned body. The koala was crying from the pain and Toni knew she needed to get him to a clinic fast.
Firefighters arrived on the scene and Toni said she would bring the injured koala to The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital. 31 other koalas have been brought to the hospital dehydrated and burned from the scorched area that was a vital koala habitat.
The hospital praised Toni for her valiant efforts and wrote, “This lady is Toni – she is an absolute legend for capturing this male koala.” They went on to say, “He has been called Ellenborough Lewis (after her grandchild). He has been treated and is now in the five star accommodation at the Koala Hospital.”
Lewis is still in critical condition. “His feet are completely burnt and he has burns to his chest and stomach. He has been bandaged and given antibiotics but will take a lot of looking after, if he pulls through,” a spokesperson for the hospital told 9News.
Lewis is around 14 years old … he’s well enough to have a munch on some eucalyptus leaves this morning. Is still suffering some serious burns after being rescued from a bushfire yesterday. 🐨 @9NewsSyd pic.twitter.com/OFzX9PqfeW
— Lizzie Pearl (@lizziepearl) November 19, 2019
Toni went to the hospital to visit Lewis and encourage him to keep fighting. The hospital believes he currently has a 50% chance of surviving but will continue to do everything they can to help him pull through.
The hospital created a GoFundMe page to ask for donations to build water stations for the surviving wild animals.
The hospital has exceeded their original goal and plan to use the extra money to build a “‘Koala Ark’, a facility to allow the surviving koalas to be accommodated in a healthy habitat area. Hopefully, these koalas will breed and a new population of koalas will be established for return to the wild.”
Firefighters and rescue teams continue to search for koalas in need of rescuing and ask that anyone who sees an injured or sick koala to call the hospitals 24 hour rescue hotline.
Watch the amazing rescue below and don’t forget to share.
Andrea Powell is an animal enthusiast that resides in West Michigan. When not writing, she is exploring the great outdoors with her dogs and horses.